On Writing--To What End?

I went to bed at 8:30 last night. I needed to write. I had been writing for two hours . . . but in circles. Something was wrong. I couldn't move forward. I desperately needed to move forward. The problem, I decided, was with the heroine's motivation in a particular scene. It wasn't quite right. But I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I couldn't think.

At 8:25 I gave up, shut off the computer, went downstairs and told my husband, "I'm going to bed. Maybe I'm coming down with something," I said. "I don't feel sick, but I'm exhausted." I could barely keep my eyes open. That morning I'd also failed to wake at my appointed 5:30am to write before work. Too tired.

Steve pointed out that I've been burning the candle from both ends, meeting one or another deadline, one after the other for a year. Actually, I've been doing that for four years. The difference is, this year, in addition, I started a full time day-job. I thought I could make it all work. Somehow find my groove. But so far, not so good. I know it. I feel it. I look it.

I have, in fact, been reevaluating my life over the past week and a half. It's all well and good to have ambition and dreams, but it's hard to achieve your goals if you can't function. It's also unhealthy and unproductive if things that make you happy (aside from professional accomplishments), like spending quality time with your spouse, family, and friends, and losing yourself in a well written book, movie, or television program have mostly disappeared.

So. How do I get to where I want to be without killing myself? Without forfeiting personal happiness and health?

In my case, it boils down to making some hard business decisions. To assess time spent working on a project versus income/sales lift. This applies to many, many aspects of my publishing career such as specific manuscripts, promotion, book signings, and conferences attended. For someone who likes to do it all, someone who wants to reach her goals sooner than later, streamlining is difficult. Mostly because it means slowing down and at the same time, taking chances.

So, here I am at another transitional period of my life. Once again, I must remind myself that my passion is stronger than my fear. Oh, and I'm thinking of having "Slow and steady wins the race" tattooed on my butt. Just kidding. Sort of.

By the way, last night was the first night in weeks that I slept more than six hours. I woke up at 5:30am this morning, no problem, and as soon as my lids popped open, the solution to my heroine's motivation popped into my brain. I sat down and wrote. I solved the problem. I moved forward. Major progress in my manuscript, all before 7:30 am. This morning I'm not only inspired but rested. I still have too much on my plate, but at least I'm working to amend that. Meanwhile, anyone know of a good tattoo artist? Just kidding. Sort of.

If you got a tattoo just now, what would your motto be?


Jennifer Elbaum said…
Okay, so I'd never get a tattoo because my first motto would be: "embrace change" which is pretty darn hard when it's etched into you for the rest of your life, lol

It goes hand in hand with:

"Emancipate yourself from your outdated expectations."

Keep in mind that the benefits of some R&R can outweigh the costs.
Beth Ciotta said…
Ah, Jen!!! LOVED everything within your comment. Those are two kick-butt mottos. Must borrow! I feel like pumping my fist in the air and leading others who feel like me in a parade. "Emancipate yourself from your outdated expectations!"

Julee Ann said…
Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
Beth Ciotta said…
That's one loooong tattoo, Julee Ann. Where would you put it?!
Constance said…
Carpe Diem!
Under a picture of a little koi, natch! :P
Beth Ciotta said…
Constance, I had to look up 'koi'. It's an Asian carp, right? Sort of looks like a big glodfish. I found this: "Koi and tattoos of koi are traditionally considered lucky."

You smart, girl, you!
Constance said…
Beth - I'm sure you meant 'smartass' but hey, I'll take it. :P
charleneteglia said…
I am scaling my life down to more sane and sustainable, too. Multiple deadlines are fine if they have a little space between 'em. It's a marathon, not a sprint. You can't sustain the sprint pace over the long-term.

My tattoo would be "don't wait until tomorrow to do what you want to do today".
FeyRhi said…
"You can fix a bad page but you can't fix a blank one."

I think it was Nora Roberts that first said that (?) I still like it.
(Since this is just for fun)
I'd get it tattoo'd on the back of my hand so that when I went to reach for something other then the keyboard I'd get reminded. OR backwards on my forehead so I could read it everytime I looked in the mirror.

Realistically, I will tape it to the corner of my computer. *G*

Good luck with finding your balance!! I'm cheering for you too.
Bob said…
It's a well-known fact that "sleeping on it" helps your brain to figure out about any problem.

Any tattoo will do about the same for you: whenever you look at it, you'll wonder what possessed you to get a tattoo. Or I would

However, if I got it on my butt, I would almost never see it.
Roni said…
Beth, you needed that sleep. You were exhausted and drained. I don't like tatoos...but I do have a few mottos. "Never give up; never surrender" (From Galaxy Quest) was my motto before I was published (I still love it). Another one that applies to you, I believe: Pace Yourself. (Remember, it will get done..and if it takes a few days longer because you read a good book, listened to a friend who needs you, or took time to refresh yourself, so what? In the scheme of things, in the vast universe, a few days will make little difference. You'll be more productive if you take some time off.) There...hope that didn't sound like a lecture!
Beth Ciotta said…
Awesome motto for you tattoo, Charlene. Also a good thought about not 'sprinting' in a marathon. Never thought of it like that.

Hi Feyrhi! Yes, I do belive Nora said that. So wise. It's something I try to keep in mind as well. Thank you for the cheer!!
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi Bob. "Sleeping on it." I forgot all about that cliche! It's so true! As for the tattoo, in truth, I doubt I'd be willing to go through the discomfort (PAIN!) of really getting one.

Roni, wise as always. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I like your mottos too!

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